Wednesday, August 22, 2012

We Have Seen The Enemy--It Is Us

Day-care workers accused of urging toddlers to fight -- on video

Three Delaware day-care workers are accused of urging two 3-year-old toddlers to fight each other while the adults egged them on -- and videotaped it, police said. "No pinching, only punching," one of the adults allegedly coaches the children. It's the story that is setting the Internet on fire Tuesday, along with "toddler fight club" headlines. The suspects have been charged with assault, endangering the welfare of a child, reckless endangerment and conspiracy. They were identified as Tiana Harris, 19, and Lisa Parker, 47, both of Dover; and Estefania Myers, 21, of Felton.

According to police, "Hands of Our Future LLC Daycare has had their City of Dover Business License suspended pending a hearing." A call to the Dover Police Department was not returned before this story was posted online. But Dover Police Capt. Tim Stump told that the video was "difficult" to watch: "One of the kids involved ran over to one of the adults for protection, but she turned him around back into the fight."

The children "were just wailing on each other," Stump said in an interview on NBC10, WCAU. "I mean punching, slapping, pinching, throwing each other into tables." The video allegedly shows the adults urging the kids to duke it out, with fists. The video is not being made public at this time, authorities say, because it's evidence. Police say that one of the children can be heard in the video saying "He's pinching me!," according to CBS Philly. One of the day-care workers allegedly responds, "No pinching, only punching," the TV station report. About 10 other children were looking on at the time. Although the incident happened in March, it only came to the attention of a police officer this weekend, during the course of an unrelated investigation.

August 21, 2012, 11:19 a.m.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Stop The Violence, Now! The time for marching is over!

Every day, the names change, but the story is the same; another African-American or Latino child is shot down on the streets of America. In New York City, a 4 year old boy is killed in a crossfire. In Chicago, a promising young basketball player is shot down a week before he was due to leave for an East coast university.  In the Bronx, a father finds his beloved 14-year-old son shot dead in a park after he went out to play tennis. Our babies are being slaughtered on the nation’s streets daily, so where is the same outrage that we have for the mass killings like Aurora, Colorado and Virginia Tech?

Again, where is the outrage when it’s us killing us?

There are so many varied reasons for youth violence in America—from bad parenting to extreme violence in the media to lack of jobs and opportunities to a mass hysteria of self-hatred in the urban communities. Cities like Chicago and New York have some of the strictest gun laws in the country, yet it does not stop the almost daily killings. Some cities have gun buy-back programs periodically and take a number of guns off the street, but that also does not stop the killings. The controversial Stop-and-Frisk programs in a number of cities may or may not help, but many people are now calling for stopping-and-frisking automobiles from certain gun-friendly states as they enter cities like New York and Chicago to see if they can put a dent in the Iron-Pipeline of smuggled weapons into the streets that are sold to thugs for huge profits.

In today’s New York Post, columnist Peggy Noonan writes an article titled, ‘Horror Show, Neither Hollywood nor Washington does anything about violence in film’. In it she writes how one certain popular- with-youth movie a few years back opens with a number of people being shot point-blank in the head. Is it any wonder why Americans, especially our youth, are so desensitized to seeing extremely violent murder on the screens?

And speaking of Washington, I am extremely surprised the politicians are not speaking out more about this violence epidemic among our nation’s youth. In my opinion, if you are going to speak out when there’s mass shootings like Aurora, you should also speak out about the scourge of our young kids murdering each other. This should be one of the issues of concern in the upcoming presidential election.

What we need is a complete re-engineering of the thought process that promotes and accepts violence of any form: murder, domestic violence, sexual abuse, child abuse…etc. In actuality, what we are proposing is a re-boot, so to speak, of the degenerately immoralistic culture that we now live in. This will be an extremely difficult and time consuming endeavor, but the longest journey begins with the first step. While many of the media outlets and community leaders are holding marches and meetings, that are well and good, The Street Angel Project Against Youth Violence is proposing three immediate steps that we feel are in the right direction:

Step 1: Spreading the ‘Stop The Violence’ Peace Ribbon (1) and this article to everyone you can.

Step 2: Supporting our project by liking ‘The Street Angel Project Against Youth Violence’ page on Facebook.

Step 3: Calling for the hundreds of thousands of churches across the country to act as “Safe Havens” and open their doors to our youth for at least one night a week where they can peacefully enjoy being kids again.

Like a frog in water that boils slowly, it took awhile for this problem to become an epidemic and it will take awhile for all of us, working together, to get things to change for the better. I am hoping to connect with and brainstorm with other concerned Americans who are fed up and want to make an impact for change. Together, we can come up with more solutions for this massive problem.

One thing is certain:
My concentrated efforts and vigilance to STOP THE VIOLENCE will only increase until this epidemic of carnage among our young, our future, is under control.

Peace and Blessings,
Robert Batista

          (1) We are not the designers or originators of the “Stop The Violence” ribbon pictured.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Statistics Don't Lie--More Men Of Color Are Victims Of Guns

Last night, I caught the Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg on the 10 O'clock news. He was speaking at a church in Brownsville, Brooklyn and said something that shouldn't have surprised me, but it did. He was speaking about the NYC Police Department's Stop-And-Frisk policy and said that 90% of all homicide victims in the city are either African-American or Latino. I was stunned.

Then my mind replayed the series of news events I've seen over the past few days. A young man shot in a liquor store robbery in New Jersey, the Auburn University student shootings over the weekend and the murder of 23 year old Oscar Duncan (pictured), a youth minister and singer known as "Choir Boy" out in L.A. last week.

"Pastor, 23, nicknamed 'Choir Boy' after choosing Church over life of crime, killed by gang who harassed his girlfriend 

By Richard Hartley-Parkinson for The DailyMail Online

Oscar Duncan was shot dead in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, by four men as he stood in the street near his mother’s house moments after returning home from Bible study. A youth pastor and singer nicknamed 'Choir Boy' after he chose a religious life rather than one of crime has been killed by gang members who had harassed his girlfriend. Duncan was a youth minister at the Greater Zion Church Family and, despite growing up in the crime-ridden Oakwood area of the city, he stayed out of trouble and had a clean record.

Moments before he was gunned down with a single shot, investigators believe his killers were jeering at his girlfriend, according to KTLA. A $50,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killers who pulled up in a white vehicle containing four African-Americans. Duncan approached the vehicle to see who was making remarks to his girlfriend when he was shot dead.

As well as being a pastor he worked at the Venice Boys and Girls Club where he has been a member since he was six and throughout his earlier life he was an upstanding youngster winning Youth of the Year in 2006.He was Venice High School's football team captain and won homecoming king. His family said that in a tragic twist of irony, he had dedicated his short life to keeping children and young people away from the dangers of gangs."

I think back to Dr. Joy De Gruy Leary's ground-breaking book, 'Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome' which argues that we are experiencing the "Residual Impacts of Trauma on African Descendants in the Americas" and cannot help but believe that at least part of this seeming self-hatred that is causing our self-annihilation and self-genocide is embedded in our psyche and goes back to the horrors of slavery. Once we find the root of the problem, we then can find ways of tackling and solving it. Watch Dr. Leary's video and learn more.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Our Kids Our Dying For Their Phones

There are a growing number of dangerous predators out there who are robbing and sometimes killing young people for their IPhones, Androids and other Smartphone devices. I constantly tell my kids and their friends, if someone tries to jack you for your phone, give it up. It is not worth getting hurt or losing your life over. There are too many numerous stories like Hwang Yang's (pictured) a chef at the Museum of Modern Art who was gunned down in the Bronx. As he lay bleeding on the ground, the gunman flipped him over, and grabbed his IPhone from his pocket.

Robber fatally shoots chef in Bronx, steals iPhone

Hwang Yang, 26, was returning home from his job at Museum of Modern Art's restaurant The Modern

A hardworking young chef was gunned down in the Bronx early Thursday by a brutal thief who kicked his motionless body, stole his iPhone and then casually strolled away, sources told the Daily News.
Former Sunday school teacher Hwang Yang, 26, was left bleeding in the middle of a leafy Riverdale street around 12:30 a.m. - a bullet lodged in his chest - as his adoring mom fretted he was late returning to the family's home just two blocks away, police and family sources said. Yang had just finished a shift at his new job as a cold-plate chef at The Modern, the upscale French-American restaurant at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.

Parents, please tell your loved ones: We can always get you another phone, we can never get another you.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

An Open Letter To Young Brothers in Chicago

Late last year, I had the honor of having my book 'Street Angel' read by the Truancy Reduction Program in Chicago. The two program coordinators, Allyse Sturdivant and Dr. Darlene Perry felt very strongly about the positive impact the story would have on the youths in the program, many of who were gang members. Upon seeing this great impact, Dr. Perry and Ms. Sturdivant asked that I write a letter to the young brothers about my reasons for writing 'Street Angel' and my feelings on youth violence in general. Here is the letter I wrote to them:

New York, N.Y. 12/12/11

In the Spirit of Peace,

About a week ago, a 17 year old boy who played basketball for South Shore H.S. in Brooklyn was shot and killed after school. I immediately thought of my story, ‘The City Game’. Like the boy in Brooklyn, Shaquille Jones, the lead character in my story, high school basketball All-American Sam Johnson, also dies senselessly and tragically.

According to the latest CDC report, homicide is the leading cause of death of Black males between the ages of 15-34. I think this should be repeated--Murder is the leading cause of death of Black boys of 15 to young men of 34. The troubling second part to this statistic is that they are usually killed by another young black male.

There is a scene in ‘Street Angel’ where Moises is at Devin’s funeral and watches Devin’s mother hysterically try to get into the coffin with “her baby”. Many readers have told me that scene was one of the most vivid they had ever read. I purposely wrote it that way so people can understand that two lives were taken when Devin was killed: his and his mother’s. Every time a boy or girl is killed, the death affects everyone who loved and cared for that person--his parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, friends...etc.

I would also ask you to remember Moises’ graduation, when, before he gives the valedictorian address, he says to himself, “it doesn’t take any courage to pull a trigger.” I would go a step further and add “it doesn’t take any courage to be a gang-banger. Just like it takes courage to talk out an argument, it also takes courage to be a neutron. It takes courage to lead, and not be a follower. Remember, we all have the power to change our circumstances.

It’s up to you.

Peace and Blessings to you all,

Rob Batista

Sunday, January 1, 2012


2012--A year that many have deemed the year of tremendous change. And tremendous change is what will have to happen in the battle against youth violence if it is to put a dent in the explosion of deaths among our young. Recently, in Chicago, 2 teens were senselessly killed while sitting down to a meal at a fried chicken outlet. In Brooklyn, a teen was shot and killed at his girlfriend's birthday party allegedly by the girl's former boyfriend. And in Oakland, a five-year old boy was shot and died in his father's arms.

It's extremely hard to be a parent in today's America, but it is even harder to be a kid now. Many of them live in a constant state of fear, as just going to and from school or the park is like walking through a minefield and battlefield that rival any in Afghanistan. It has become obvious to many that our nation's streets have become synonymous
with the 21st century's version of 'The Killing Fields'. Our children also know that as much as we parents do our ultimate best to try, we can never fully protect our kids when they step outside our doors. In many of Americas cities and towns, gangbangers rule, and many of our teens are pressured and coerced to join them. Like a frog boiled slowly, the road to where we are as a violent society did not happen overnight, but over a period of time. Gangs have always been with us since the Pug-uglies of the 19th century. Violence exploded during Prohibition in the "Capone" 1920's, but the ones killed were mostly organized crime's gangsters and bootleggers. Once in a while innocents were caught in the crossfire, but these incidents were usually rare. Today, it is the norm.

So what's the difference between last century and now? Obviously the ready availability of cheap, high powered handguns. Like cheap drugs, guns have flooded and saturated our inner-cities and have been causing deadly havoc ever since. In September last year, The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence came out with a special report entitled: Missing Guns: Lost and Dangerous. Here is a portion of the report:

"Every day over the last two and a half years, an average of at least 18 firearms left licensed gun manufacturers’ plants nationwide without a record of sale, according to a Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence analysis of data released in August 2011 by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. From 2009 to the middle of 2011, at least 16,485 firearms left gun manufacturer’s inventory without a record of being legally sold.1 The 16,485 “missing” guns are likely a vast undercount of the total number of guns that disappeared from gun manufacturers in the last two and a half years. This report follows a January 2011 Brady Center report, “Missing Guns,” that found that the nation’s gun dealers also “lost” more than 62,000 firearms since 2008.2 The missing guns are noted at ATF compliance inspections of gun manufacturers. Nationwide there are 4,487 licensed gun manufacturers,3 but due to funding restrictions, ATF conducts compliance inspections each year at only about one-fifth of the nation’s licensed gun dealers and manufacturers.4 Firearms that disappear from gun manufacturers’ plants without records of sale are frequently trafficked by gun traffickers and prized by criminals. Guns taken from gun manufacturing plants may also be removed before they have been stamped with serial numbers, making them virtually untraceable."

As parents, we are fighting a daunting, uphill battle due to so many obstacles that are hindering the keeping of illegal guns out of the hands of those who are criminally irresponsible.

In 1994, I wrote and self-published 'The City Game', my first short story that highlighted the then-growing menace of youth gun violence. The story was about a high school basketball star, Sam Johnson, who is on his way to professional basketball stardom when he is cut down when coming to the aid of his best friend. Almost immediately, the story was hailed by students, parents and teachers as a seminal breakthrough in the battle against violence. Schools and libraries picked up the book and it was spotlighted in newspapers and magazines.

After I wrote and published my second and more detailed story on this subject, 'Street Angel', 'The City Game' sort of went on the back-burner and got lost in the hoopla and success of 'Street Angel'. But to me, 'The City Game' is my favorite of all the pieces I have written and needs to come back to the forefront as the inspirational cautionary tale that it is.

To this end, I am re-publishing it as an e-book this year and will spearhead a movement to turn the story into a media event: specifically a play and eventually a film--even if I have to finance and produce them myself.

This is my resolved resolution for 2012.